George Kittle Says 49ers Trust Shanahan, Lynch's Judgment with No. 3 Draft Pick

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) congratulates San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan after a victory over the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)
Scot Tucker/Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle said Wednesday he trusts Niners general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan to make the right choice with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft Thursday night.

Kittle, a supporter of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, explained his stance during an appearance on the NFL Network's Good Morning Football:

"Jimmy's our quarterback, he has been, he's led us to a bunch of wins, we haven't won without him, his record speaks for itself. So like I said [previously], Kyle and John are doing whatever they can to make this team compete for a Super Bowl, and if they think it's bringing another quarterback, another tight end, another fullback, another linebacker, whatever it is, they're just trying to make this team better and more competitive and so I know the team trusts in them because they haven't led us astray yet."

The Niners telegraphed their expected decision to select a new franchise quarterback at No. 3 by trading three first-round picksNo. 12 this year and their first choice the next two yearsand a 2022 third-round choice to the Miami Dolphins in order to move up nine spots.

Simply put, a front office doesn't send out that many assets unless it's on the hunt for a quarterback, and that means Garoppolo's days as the team's starter are likely numbered.

Garoppolo, who was acquired in an October 2017 trade with the New England Patriots, owns an impressive 22-8 record across 30 starts with the 49ers. He also led the team to Super Bowl LIV at the end of the 2019 season, but the 49ers fell short against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Despite San Francisco's overall success with the 29-year-old Illinois native under center, his individual numbers haven't been groundbreaking. He's thrown just 46 touchdowns in 31 games for the franchise.

The question is what direction the Niners are going to go once on the clock. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is the presumptive choice of the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1, and the New York Jets are expected to follow with BYU's Zach Wilson at No. 2 as part of what's shaping up as a quarterback-heavy top 10.

Lynch and Shanahan would then have their choice of Alabama's Mac Jones, Ohio State's Justin Fields or North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

They've played it close to the vest, and Lynch wouldn't even commit to the choice stepping right into the starting lineup given the team's high expectations for 2021.

"It's a unique situation," Lynch said. "We have the third pick and typically No. 3 picks at quarterback, they're going to teams that aren't that good. I think our roster's pretty good. We need to stay healthy. There's a lot of things that have to happen. But I think our roster's pretty healthy in terms of talent. So I think it can be a really exciting environment for who we decide on to come in and play when they're ready to play."

Jones is the most NFL-ready quarterback of the three top prospects that should be available for the Niners, which is why he's often the predicted choice, but if the team is going to take a more conservative route, that brings Fields or Lance into play and could keep Garoppolo as the starter to open 2021.

The numerous variables in play are why there's so much intrigue about what the 49ers are going to do.